Pure freethinking involves only logic based on observable truth. This lesson is about how to view the world and make a sensible analysis using only pure free thought.
First, one must learn not to rely on anything one cannot verify oneself. Can you be absolutely sure a professor is correct, because he is a professor? In practical terms, experts are often right, but in absolute terms, if you can’t see it yourself, it is hearsay. Researching professional sources is useful when you need details, but details are only useful once you have a clear idea of the structure to contain them. Going into details without knowing at least roughly what you need to know is like entering a hall of mirrors. There are just too many details, most of which will be irrelevant.
You must learn to work with broad concepts, then narrow the field and fill in the details. That is why I use no examples, references or quotes in this book.
Thought Point: Are the opinions of experts today, always, often or ,only sometimes correct? What do you think?
So, what evidence is allowed in pure freethinking? Well, I will break my rule and give an example. Anyone who knows a fair number of tobacco smokers can readily see that they nearly all have serious lung problems as they get older. Coughing every morning, short of breath, regular winter bronchitis, are not difficult things to observe. Yet, it took the doctors and the lawyers decades before they would state categorically that tobacco was bad for your health. If you were a smoker and waited for experts to tell you it was harmful before quitting you might die before they got round to it. This is a good example, because it also demonstrates that observed reality wins the end – cancer will not give in to political pressure or go away because no one talks about it. You can’t cancel cancer.
A freethinker can look around them and make unquestionably accurate observations. If I say “Nearly all rich people live in big expensive houses”, do I need to reference anything? No! It is patently true.
You only need references if you want more specifics. We don’t need particulars at this level. You can learn that later once you can work with obvious truth adeptly. One must be careful, though to separate observable reality from half-truth and opinion.
That ‘All German people speak German.” is an unquestionable truth and no further evidence is required. On the other hand, “All Germans drink beer.”, is a half-truth, not unquestionably true. To be accurate one must add the correct quantifier; ”many Germans drink beer”. When using pure freethinking it is very important to choose the quantifier that is really fits the bill. If not, you will never be able to come to a valid conclusion. Your thoughts will be only fit for after dinner conversation at best.
Each item you think of must be checked for accuracy. Ask yourself, “could this assertion be challenged?” If you think up a possible challenge you must adjust your thinking to overcome it. “All politicians are corrupt”, this might be your opinion and you could be correct, but you cannot easy check how many politicians are really corrupt. Worst still, the word ‘corruption’ is open to interpretation, it is a ‘catch all concept’ and not specific. However, if you change the quantifier to indefinite one, like ‘many’, or ‘some’ that is good logic. “Many politicians are corrupt”. You need to make a good guess and choose your quantifiers with care.
Thought point: ‘A few politicians are corrupt.”, is that realistic, what do you think?
The difference between opinion and observable truth can be subtle. “Many people use computers these days” is clearly true. “Too many people use computers these days”, is an opinion. Ask ten people, how many people should use computers, and you will get multiple answers. That is the problem with opinions – getting any agreement is not easy. You cannot build chains of pure logic if you do not define your thoughts carefully enough!
Dogs have four legs
Old people hate new ideas.
people love excitement
Regular exercise promotes good health.
Drinking alcohol is very bad for you.
Two is company, three is a crowd.
Nobody enjoys root canal surgery.
Thought Point: Test yourself! Which of the statements above are unquestionably true, part true, or simply opinions?
The idea is to build a chain of logic that few if any can disagree with. It is not so easy to do, especially at first, but with practice it gets easier. In this book, I try to stick to objective truth, but that is open challenge. Be my guest, challenge me as you will, in your head, or on my website.
The big problem with going into greater detail is that details nearly always can be challenged. “63% of cat owners are women.” Is it 63, 83 or 65%? With details you always need more specifics; which demographic, what country, which survey technique was used? You can debate all day and never come to an agreement. The proper place for details is after you have established a satisfactory chain of pure free thought. Then find the details that are really necessary.
Not all challenges are legitimate. If the challenge is not based on observable reality it should be treated with suspicion. Many doctors told people smoking was safe, but the evidence they used to back this assertion went directly against observable reality. Ask yourself, “Does an expert opinion concur with what I observe?”,
“ Would other people be able to observe what I see?”
You cannot expect everyone to agree on anything. Strange and inaccurate views are stubbornly held by many. Apply the same principles to a challenge that you used for your original thought. For example – “It is a stain on civilized society that many starve each year because they cannot afford by food”. Someone might challenge this, “it is not the fault of society they have no money it is because they are lazy”. That challenge is missing a quantifier, “some may have no money because they are lazy”. That some people may starve through their own fecklessness does not challenge the original statement that, “Many starve because of political failure”. OK, I have never seen anyone starve personally, but I have two reasons to believe it does happen; first there is plenty of well documented evidence (including grisly VDOs), and second I have observed that governments and big businesses have a substantial compassion deficit.
In school and colleges, pure freethinking is not encouraged, the student is asked to build a pyramid of references and quotes to back their argument. This is not bad in itself, as all study forms are useful, but it is no replacement for pure thought.